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Lisbon after dark: where to find the city's best nightlife.



The best nightlife in Lisbon centres on some great bars, cafés, clubs and live music venues. Many can be found in the city’s popular nightclub districts, but a few are waiting to be explored further afield by the more adventurous. For example, Casa Independente is rather off the beaten track, in the city's Intendente neighbourhood. But it's well worth seeking out for its local boho vibe. Craft beer is all the rage in Lisbon right now, and for arguably the best selection of local brews head west to the city’s Alcântara district and the Quimera Brewpub. For a night with the locals gather near Cais do Sodré and Titanic Sur Mer, a funky live music venue perched on the waterfront. Another lively venue known for its DJ sets and live gigs is Lounge, also found overlooking the river near Cais do Sodré. Head down to Noobai Café before dusk and enjoy a sundowner at this informal bar that stays open till midnight and ideal for meeting up in before discovering the rest of the night. If you’d rather sample Portuguese wine, join the throng for an evening at By the Wine, a cozy wine bar that features 3,000 empty bottles fixed to the ceiling! For a good old Irish knees up, tumble into O’Gillins where the Guinness flows as swiftly as a fiddler’s elbow. Fancy your luck? Then head east over to Parque das Nações and gamble responsibly at the plush Casino Lisboa, which also hosts international cabaret shows and serves food late into the evening. For inexpensive drinks and amiable banter grab a terrace table outside Sol e Pesca, a former fishing tackle shop that’s now one of the city’s quirkiest bars. And situated on the same street is Pensão Amor, arguably the most eclectic of Lisbon’s after hours venues where anything from naughty burlesque shows to poetry recitals take place. The beer’s pretty good too!


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10
Cais do Sodré/Santos


An established venue on Lisbon's nightlife circuit, Pensao Amor is located in an old boarding house near Cais do Sodre; (the name translates as "Love House"). It's aptly themed around an upscale, 19th-century burlesque club, complete with crimson velvet furnishings and walls lined with gilt-framed mirrors and dozens of antique prints and lithographs depicting ladies in risqué poses. The decadent mood is further set by careful attention to period detail right down to the faux trompe l'oeil ceiling and pub-style piano. The bar serves a great selection of beers, wine, spirits and cocktails and guests are further entertained by regular live music performances in an adjoining salon, burlesque shows and clean and tasteful pole dancing exhibitions. The upper floors are occupied by a number of independent retailers, many specialising in alternative fashion and handcrafted jewellery.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Upholding the spirit of burlesque and the tradition of a naughty night our, this bar-club offers a wonderfully alternative way to spend the evening.

Paul's expert tip: By entering via the groundfloor you can admire the risqué artwork decorating the stairwell.

Read more about Pensão Amor →


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Cais do Sodré/Santos


Anglers used to frequent this place when it sold fishing tackle and equipment. So how did a fishermen's hardware store turn itself into one of Lisbon's hippest bar-cafés? Owner Henrique Vaz Pato saw an opportunity to refurbish a long-abandoned commercial premises into a trendy nightspot, one that was right in the heart of Cais do Sodré's clubbing district, and opened Sol e Pesca â€" "Sun and Fishing". Proud of the port area's seafaring tradition, he kept the shop's décor much as it was, and the fishing rods, lines, hooks and weights are still on display. Sol e Pesca also offers a tasty snack menu of tuna, sardine and other assorted seafood (great with wine or an ice-cold beer) and one side of the bar displays an array of these tinned delicacies, which are sold in colourful retro wrapping â€" American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain raved about them and featured the bar in his TV series. At night this place lures a young, vibrant crowd and on Saturday nights it really is filled to the gills.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Simple, traditional yet irresistibly fashionable, this place has caught the imagination of Lisbon's late night crowd and works both as café and bar.

Paul's expert tip: At weekends the nightlife spills out onto the street so if you want to sit at a terrace table, arrive early!

Read more about Sol e Pesca →


8
Parque das Nações


World-class dance and music shows and a diverse range of table-based gaming options, anything form American Roulette and Blackjack to Caribbean Stud Poker and Baccarat, feature at this modern and stylish entertainment complex located in Parque das Nacoes. Players can also try their luck at over 1000 slot machines. The Oceans Auditorium hosts a programme of national and international productions, and previous shows include Stomp and Tango Forever. The Arena Lounge surrounds a rotating stage with multiple platforms where guests can enjoy a complimentary show over cocktails. The casino offers two dining options: the Hua Ta Li Chinese restaurant and the Arena Lounge. Private parties are held in the Suite. Dress code is smart casual for tables and shows.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: A multi faceted entertainment hub, Casino Lisboa offers gaming, cabaret, and eating and drinking in a showy and glitzy environment.

Paul's expert tip: Access to gaming is restricted to those over 18 years old able to present a valid identification document, such as a passport.

Read more about Casino Lisboa →


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An authentic Gaelic toe-tapping atmosphere pervades this popular and lively bar, and no wonder. This is the only genuinely owned Irish pub in the city - the proprietor, Conor O'Gílín, is a proud Dubliner. Opened in 1995, the Emerald Isle ambiance is further enhanced by a dark wood interior furnished with antique books, oil lamps, sepia photographs of old Dublin breweries and the Irish tricolour hung over the top of the bar. Regular live music nights see talented Irish and Portuguese musicians entertain patrons with traditional ditties and old fashioned drinking songs. Conor himself occasionally takes to the stage to sing and play the spoons! Cold Guinness and Kilkenny do a roaring trade, but a range of Portuguese and European beers are also served, along with wine and selected spirits. Food is available, at lunchtimes and during the evenings. O'Gílín's draws a mixed crowd, anything from students to seasoned expatriates. Big-screen sporting events, especially major football tournaments, also pull in the punters.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This was the first Irish bar to open in Lisbon and is totally authentic - an independent pub run by a Dubliner born and bred.

Paul's expert tip: If you're looking to eat here it's best to grab a table before it gets too busy, and remember, this is a smoking designated bar.

Read more about O'Gillins →


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Cais do Sodré/Santos


The arched ceiling of this inviting wine bar is decorated with over 3000 empty wine bottles, a creative nod to the fact that this nightspot is operated by one of Portugal's leading producers â€" José Maria da Fonseca. Customers have an enviable choice of over 50 different JMF wines from around Portugal, sold by the bottle or glass. An accompanying menu of carefully selected food, delicacies like Azeitão cheeses, Algarve bread, Iberico hams and even oysters harvested from the Sado estuary, lend By the Wine a homely and traditional flavour. The interior design mirrors JMF's own cellars, where a rear salon is embellished with floor-to-ceiling wine racks, a collection of French oak barrels and an original wine press.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Owned and operated by one of Portugal's most illustrious wine-producing families, By the Wine is equally attractive to connoisseurs and those seeking memorable Lisbon nightlife.

Paul's expert tip: Customers can purchase vouchers to tour the JMF winery at Azeitão, south of Lisbon, and enjoy a wine-tasting session.

Read more about By the Wine →


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Cais do Sodré/Santos


Perched on a terrace underneath the Miradoura de Santa Catarine esplanade, Noobai Café works as an ad-hoc bar and restaurant popular with a younger crowd. The food is fairly basic but inventive and nourishing, with dishes such as tuna steak with leek and cod and sweet potato gracing the menu. They also have vegetarian options. The main ingredient, though, is the outstanding view, which takes in the city's dock front, the broad river and the landmark suspension bridge. Dusk often provides beautiful sunsets and after dark the entire vicinity shimmers under a mantel of twinkling spotlight. Indeed, this is a place to hangout with friends over drinks while enjoying al fresco nightlife away from the more usual tourist haunts.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Best known as a sundowner venue with cracking views of the river, Noobai Café is also a decent place to eat.

Paul's expert tip: WiFi is available. Ask at the bar for the password.

Read more about Noobai Café →


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24 de Julho & Docas/Alcantara


The vibe at this shoe box-sized venue on live music nights positively buzzes. Indeed, Lounge is an institution, a bar that eagerly promotes the indie scene and kicks mainstream out of the window. It gets crowded here: there's nothing intimate about a night out here! But the stuffy, smoke-filled living room with its bohemian atmosphere only accentuates the sense of occasion. Most of the bands hail out of Portugal but groups from as far away as Australia have played here, such is the reputation of this unpretentious back street den. Clubbers, too, are drawn here. Complementing the line-ups are some seriously clever DJs who get their own nights to stamp their mark on Lisbon's vibrant music scene.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Those who take their music seriously should check Lounge out. This is alternative Lisbon at its best.

Paul's expert tip: This is a designated smoking bar, so hover near the door for gulps of fresh air.

Read more about Lounge →


3
Cais do Sodré/Santos


Sited on the waterfront near Cais do Sodré railway station, Titanic is an obvious choice for anybody who appreciates live music in all its genres. One night you could breeze in to be regaled by syncopated jazz rhythms, on another night, frantic and seductive Samba. And you could find yourself prodding the air in reply to urgent Hip Hop, the message hitting you loud and clear at two in the morning. And this is what this funky venue is all about, great sounds by largely local outfits in a super laid back atmosphere. The music rotates nightly, with weekends seeing numbers swell to overflowing. Drinks are reasonably priced and door policy is relaxed and informal.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Titanic welcomes a youngish, alternative crowd who want to hear some decent music rather than be seen wearing the latest fashion.

Paul's expert tip: A back door leads directly onto the esplanade, a fresh sea air escape if the whole deals starts to get a bit too frantic.

Read more about Titanic Sur Mer →


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24 de Julho & Docas/Alcantara


The outstanding architectural feature of this unusual pub is the tunnel it's housed in. The premises have been fashioned from a passageway dating from 1740 and dug as a subterranean bridleway for the royal horses that were stabled at Palácio das Necessidades, which sits on a hill not far from where the bar is located. The other great draw is the enormous selection of homebrewed ale and craft beer on offer, an interesting mix of national labels and guest brews available in bottles or from the tap. Throw into the mix a menu of New York deli-style sandwiches and toe-tapping live music performed on selected nights throughout the week and you've got several very good reasons to trek out west from the city centre and discover one of Lisbon's most original and appealing nightlife venues.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Proprietors Adam and Raquel have hit the spot with Quimera Brewpub, which melds history with some truly awesome brews.

Paul's expert tip: Check their Facebook page for new craft beer and live music announcements.

Read more about Quimera Brewpub →


1
Anjos/Intendente


You'd never guess this was one of Lisbon's hippest nightclubs. Firstly, the place resembles a rambling private residence with lots of furnished rooms all individually decorated; secondly, it exudes a homely down-to-earth ambiance that lends it an understated local feel. And actually during the week the "independent house" is a wonderfully cool and relaxed hangout where visitors can enjoy drinks and snacks in a laid-back atmosphere. But on Friday and Saturday, Casa Independente turns down the lights and pumps up the volume as it welcomes a funky but informal crowd to the Tiger salon where local DJs take the evening into the night.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Casa Independente works on two levels, as a quiet evening venue and later, a more animated clubbing hangout.

Paul's expert tip: Turn up early at weekends as it does get busy later and the door policy gets a little choosier.

Read more about Casa Independente →


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Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul

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